The Food Institute Blog

The Food Institute Blog

Ordering Consumables Hits a New Level of Automation
Posted on January 19, 2016 by Jennette Zitelli

The story of the connected consumer is always expanding. Where there are needs that require filling, there will be technology to make it easier. Never did I think that technology and food would be so interconnected, and as a food writer, I never imagined so much of my writing would revolve around technology.

The Food Institute Blog recently explored the wonders of the Amazon Dash, the Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator, and drones for agriculture and food delivery. Each of these technologies would have been unthinkable 20 years ago, and they seem like something that only the most elite consumer could enjoy, but in reality they are accessible to a large majority of people. The Amazon Dash, for instance, can be bought by anyone who has $105 to cover a yearly Amazon Prime membership and the cost of the Dash button.

Each time I get used to the idea of one of these time-saving technologies, a new one is introduced that is even more connected and streamlines the customer experience even further. This time, it is Amazon, yet again, which is seemingly improving its shopper experience and inserting itself into consumers' lives on a daily basis. Its newly launched Dash Replenishment Service takes its Dash button to a whole new level. The Dash button could simply be pressed by the user when an item was running out, such as detergent or gatorade, and the product would be ordered and on its way. With the Dash Replenishment Service, that pesky middleman is removed and the products do the ordering for you. For example, if your Brita water pitcher indicates you need a new filter, it will re-order more directly from Amazon, without you having to do anything yourself. You just get an email confirming the order and have 24 hours to cancel if need be.

In Amazon's words:

"Dash Replenishment Service can be integrated with devices in two ways. Device makers can either build a physical button into their hardware to reorder consumables or they can measure consumable usage so that reordering happens automatically. For example, an automatic pet food dispenser made with built-in sensors can measure the amount of pet food remaining in its container and place an order before running out."

The key is in specially-made internet-connected products with sensors that can detect when an item is running low and contact Amazon to order more. While Amazon is partnering with some companies to make these products, it opened up the program to any person or company that has a product and an internet-connected sensor. So any company, food related or otherwise, could create a product to work with this system.

This could conceivably change the way consumers shop, making convenience more important than low prices, and removing the need for brick-and-mortar stores all together. Obviously that world is a long way away, but the way technology moves, it could come quicker than we think.


About the Author

Jennette Rowan
Product Manager
The Food Institute

Jennette writes and edits the Food Institute’s annual publications, such as Food Business Mergers & Acquisitions, The Food Industry Review and The Almanac of the Canning, Freezing, Preserving Industries.  She also handles marketing and promotions for books, seminars and the monthly webinar series. Additionally, she writes for the daily news update, Today in Food, and periodically contributes to the weekly Food Institute Report. She has a background in non-profit and environmental marketing, programming and writing, and joined the Food Institute in 2013 with a degree in Communication Studies from Rowan University.


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